Employers seeking professional talent appear to be turning to Umbrella Company Employees and other contracting professionals in preference to permanent recruits in the aftermath of June’s Brexit vote, new survey data from the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo) suggests.

Information supplied to APSCo by professional recruiters reveals that the availability of permanent vacancies flatlined in September 2016, remaining unchanged from the same time last year.

There were marked sector-by-sector variations, however. Financial services saw permanent vacancies rise by four per cent year-on-year in September. However, the number of contractor roles was double this at eight per cent. In engineering, permanent roles tumbled year-on-year by seven per cent.

Marketing professionals, by contrast, saw a marked increase in demand year-on-year, with permanent vacancies surging by 15 per cent. Contractor/interim vacancies also climbed, but only by three per cent.

Median pay across all sectors rose by just 0.8 per cent year-on-year, although there were again notable variations between sectors. Salaries in insurance surged by 12.4 per cent year-on-year, for example, while in banking, pay declined by 4.4 per cent on the same time last year. On average, pay within the professional sectors was substantially below the annual national increase of 2.3 per cent reported by the Office for National Statistics for the three months to August 2016.

Adam Pode, Director of Research at the global advisor on staffing solutions, Staffing Industry Analysts, which compiled the report for APSCo, said “While we have yet to see a discernible BREXIT effect, there may be an increase in temporary vacancies and a converse decrease in permanent hiring as the uncertainty of what is going to happened over the next couple of years becomes more certain.”

He underlined the high levels of concern in the IT space over Fujitsu’s announcement that it will cut 2000 UK jobs early in 2017. The company has justified its decision on the basis that it needs to remain competitive with foreign rivals capable of offering services less expensively. For the IT sector, Pode said, what is of particular concern is Fujitsu’s insistence that its decision was in no way linked to the UK’s vote to leave the EU.

APSCo CEO Ann Swain said that it was not surprising to find permanent professional hiring flatlining, as there is enormous ambiguity surrounding what Brexit will ultimately look like.

She added: “However, conversations with our members have confirmed that businesses realise that whether the UK is eventually inside or outside of the single market of goods and services, we must keep the wheels in motion and the spread of vacancies across various professional sectors is indicative of how businesses are preparing for the UK’s eventual exit.”

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